That was a fun headline to write, probably because saying something so outlandish as the above must have given this writer the briefest glimpse of what it must feel like to wake up and get to be Jurgen Klinsmann, a man eternally above criticism and accountability, every single day.
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Yes, US national team fans’ longest-running nightmare — Klinsmann himself, that is — is at it again. Speaking ahead of the USMNT’s final set of friendlies before their massive CONCACAF Cup playoff against Mexico on Oct. 10, Klinsmann had a few things to say about his side’s fourth-place finish at the 2015 Gold and the ensuing criticisms lobbed Klinsmann’s way (examples of criticism found HERE, HERE and HERE):
“[The semifinal loss to Jamaica] was definitely our best game, [but] there were these [officiating] calls. Everybody was saying, ‘Yeah, that’s true, it’s crazy.’ Three days later, it was a loss against Jamaica, two mistakes on two set pieces, and suddenly it was bad coaching. People see the result and they think, ‘That must have been really bad.’ ”
Criticisms of the USMNT’s performance at this summer’s Gold Cup began long before they bowed out to Jamaica in the semifinals (HERE, HERE and HERE), so let’s get that out of the way first and foremost. It doesn’t take a great deal of intelligence to look at the final score and get all up in arms over a defeat. You can lose while playing well — as they did against Jamaica — just as you can obtain positive results while playing poorly — as they did in three of four games before the Jamaica defeat.
We don’t, however, hear Klinsmann pointing to the constructive conversations so many attempted to engage in during the tournament’s early stages as a sign of understanding the game and attempting to push it forward. Instead, Klinsmann insisted day after day in July that his side was playing well and coming along quickly, despite every evidence to the contrary, simply because they were winning. But, that sounds like what Klinsmann just criticized everyone else for doing, is it not? Is Klinsmann a hypocrite, or increasingly desperate for excuses?
Would it be unfair to ask Klinsmann why he’s failed to deliver on a number of his promises and objectives when he took the job in 2011? For instance, why does the USMNT still play a reactive style of soccer when he promised a progressive, possession-based style? Why is his team’s fitness, so long the USMNT program’s calling card, suddenly an issue under his guidance? Why, with a larger player pool (his own doing, admittedly), more power as head coach and technical director and a huge investment of money, has the program plateaued on the accomplishments of his predecessors, and in some instances, regressed?
These are issues we would love to talk about, for Klinsmann to impart his infinite knowledge upon us, if only he would accept them as legitimate queries.
“It’s a good thing you have so much comments and opinions because it shows you that a lot more people care. They care about the game, they care about the national team. They care about saying their opinion. Do they understand really what happened in the Gold Cup? Some of them absolutely do and a lot of people don’t. I take it, it’s not a big deal. But it also explains we have a long way to go to educate people on the game of soccer still in this country.”
Also apparently too dumb to understand soccer: Bayern Munich fans, who wanted Klinsmann out halfway through his first (and only) season in charge; Phillip Lahm, a World Cup winner, a UEFA Champions League winner, a seven-time Bundesliga winner and the harshest critic to date of Klinsmann’s coaching abilities; and an entire team’s worth of current and/or former USMNT players.
“I am having fun being measured by every game and judged by every game.”
Except in his mind, his work, no matter the results — the program’s worst Gold Cup finish in 12 years be damned — Klinsmann remains above judgment and criticism as he shuns responsibility and blame, scapegoating anyone and everyone around him. In his 48 months in charge of the USMNT, the following groups or individuals have been at fault for his side’s shortcomings at various times: American soccer’s youth development setup, his own players, Major League Soccer, referees, and now, the fans.
Complete list of people not once responsible for the USMNT’s shortcomings over the past 48 months: Jurgen Klinsmann.